“Last year, the 5K attracted 369 participants – both runners and walkers. It was a very enjoyable morning, so we are hopeful that last year’s runners and walkers will be back,” said Andrea Baay, a member of the race committee. “The committee is hoping to register between 750 and 1,000 participants this year.”
James McCrone, executive director of Main Street Highland Park, which is organizing the race, is also hoping for a larger crowd.
“Main Street is very excited to be organizing this year’s event. The first year exceeded everyone’s expectations—in participation, in volunteers and in the amount of money we raised; and it was precisely the kind of positive, community-wide event we hoped it would be. We are looking to build on that success,” he said.
In addition, the Highland Park 5K is bringing in a new race timer.
“We’re very excited to have Al Siuta from Racing NJ as our race timer this year,” said Michelle Reasso, race committee volunteer. “He brings many years of experience as a runner, coach and timer to our 2nd annual event. The race timing is very important, both for serious runners, who must have accurate times, and for weekend runners who want benchmarks. We think with Al’s help we will have an event which is just that much stronger.”
The race will be in honor of local activist and runner Riki Jacobs, who died March 14, 2009 of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.
The race has several partners, but one in particular has a more personal connection – Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick, where Jacobs served as the executive director.
“A number of volunteers from Hyacinth will be helping out and running. Last year, the New York Aids Walk occurred on the same weekend as A Run in the Park. This year, we worked to make sure there was no conflict. We are very excited to be working with them,” McCrone said.
The price is $25 before May 1 and $28 after. There is a $2 discount for the United States Association of Track and Field members.
The proceeds from the 3.1-mile race will benefit volunteer services in the Borough of Highland Park – Volunteer Fire, Volunteer Rescue Squad/First Aid, Library, Main Street Highland Park, Police, and the Office of Recreation. Last year, each agency received a check for 688.50, Baay said.
Hyacinth will not be an official recipient, as the number of beneficiaries is already high, but anyone participating in the race should feel free to make a donation directly to Hyacinth, McCrone said.
The sponsors include Studio 808 and neighboring new sporting-goods store 816Sports, which is slated to have its grand opening in April. Joining these two sponsors are Centerpiece, Jay A Weinberg, Esq., Pino’s, The Plant Tenders, Bob Reasso Soccer, Road ID, Sugar Jones Design, White Lotus Home, Window and Door Outlet, Rebarber Family Chiropractic, Unity Bank, FBN Auto Sales and Service and Saiff Drugs.
Main Street Highland Park is a non-profit community development organization that manages the downtown Business District for the benefit of the merchants, business owners and residents of Highland Park, as a place to live, work and do business. MSHP is an officially designated program of Main Street New Jersey, a program of the NJ Department of Community Affairs.
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